While many are rightly claiming victory for Monday’s decision upholding the bedrock principle of one person, one vote established more than half a century ago, some have grown weary of having to defend against baseless challenges to longstanding legal principles and view the unanimous affirmation in Evenwel v. Abbott more as simple and sweet vindication.
The Court’s decision upholding the use of total population in state and local redistricting is at once extraordinary and entirely predictable. The decision’s unique posture is owed largely to the fact that the Supreme Court is facing the most heated contest concerning its composition in modern history. On the heels of two 4-4 stalemates in key cases following the passing of Justice Scalia, that the Court issued a unanimous decision on what was perceived by many as highly political and partisan issue is a testament to its strength despite its diminished size. The ruling was predictable enough, however, because it rests on the well-settled and well-supported principle and practice of using total population for both the composition of state and local electoral districts, as well as the apportionment of our House of Representatives as mandated by the U.S. Constitution. In short, the Court’s unanimous decision affirming an outright dismissal of the underlying claim is a win, yes, but in a war that never should have been waged.
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